PANAJI: A row has erupted in Goa over the state government’s decision to postpone the DD Kosambi Ideas Festival, a series of public lectures from November 16. but the opposition Congress linked the decision to unease within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the choice of speakers.
In a statement on Tuesday, the state’s arts and culture department said the festival was postponed due to “poor attendance response from high school, high school and college students, as exams are programmed during this mandate”.
The department also said the festival venue was unavailable as renovations and repairs were in full swing.
Former Goa Congress President, Girish Chodankar said the real reason the festival was postponed had to do with the choice of speakers, saying they were against the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh ideology. “The claim that students are not available is just an excuse,” he said.
Arts and Culture Minister Govind Gaude was not available for comment.
Among the guest speakers for the lecture series were Academy Award winner Jnanpith and Sahitya and Konkan writer Damodar Mauzo, popular mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik, Ashoka University English professor, Professor Madhavi Menon, Dr Suresh Yengde, author of the book “Caste Matters” and is co-editor of the award-winning anthology with Dr Anand Teltumbde “The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections” and Professor Pranay Lal, a biochemist who had to talk about public health and natural history.
Damodar Mauzo said he was extremely disappointed with the government’s decision.
“Officially they said it was postponed. But I don’t understand what ideological constraints they have. I am deeply disappointed and I feel disappointed by this and even disgusted by it. I was closely involved in the preparation of the festival and I was even invited to speak at the event which I had spent a lot of time preparing for. Most of the speakers who were scheduled to speak did so at my request as I was closely involved in arranging speakers for the event and that’s a loss of face,” Mauzo, who was scheduled to speak Nov. 10, told HT.
“But above all, the right to freedom of expression is something that I firmly believed had not been respected and moreover I had a high regard for the minister, himself an artist and committed to the cause of the right to freedom of expression which I view as non-negotiable,” Mauzo said.
The DD Kosambi Festival of Ideas, now in its 14th edition, commemorates the centenary of the birth of Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, the Indian historian, mathematician, statistician and polymath who contributed to genetics by introducing the Kosambi cartographic feature.
Kosambi is well known for his work in numismatics and for compiling critical editions of ancient Sanskrit texts.
In the past, the festival has hosted speakers such as former Vice President, Dr. Hamid Ansari, former Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Dr. Raghuram Rajan, Dalai Lama and former President APJ Abdul Kalam.